Tag Archives: Olympics

The Olympics: Invented by the Greeks

5 Aug

Ancient Olympics Nikolopoulos

We Greeks like to claim we invented just about everything.

The most famous? We invented democracy.

If you’ve watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding — 1 or 2 — you know that Greeks invented any word you can think of. This is not an exaggeration. I grew up hearing my father explain to me the Greek root to English words all … the … time.

We even invented cheesecake.

And, we invented the Olympics.

You’re welcome, by the way.

Today is opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s always an exciting event, with a lot of intense political and social history.

I had the amazing experience of attending the Summer Olympics when they were in Athens, Greece! You can see a few photos from that trip here.

I’ve also been several time to the site of the Ancient Olympics. The first Olympics were held in Olympia, Greece. This happens to be on the Peloponnese peninsula where my father grew up, so I grew up visiting there and then as an adult brought my own friends there. You can see my Ancient Greek Olympics photographs from over the years here.

The Greeks invented the Olympics in the 8th century BC to celebrate the mythological Greek god Zeus. Consequently, they were not just about athletics but were highly religious: there were two temples and an altar built. During Antiquity, the games were held every four years. The Olympic games were opened up to all citizens of the Roman Empire during the Roman rule. The games were held until Theodosius I, a Christian emperor of the Roman Empire, banned the pagan rituals of the Olympic games in the 4th century AD. After him, Theodosius II had the temple to Zeus destroyed. For details on the Ancient Greek Olympics, read up here.

For the official modern-day Olympics, visit the Olympics website.

 

Sometimes it’s fun to think of what Olympic games I’d invent if I were in charge of the games today. Here are my picks:

 

  • Olive wreath crown-making
  • Subway turnstile hurdling
  • Best personal essay about gym class
  • Speed typing
  • Freestyle walking

Go, team, go!

 

 

 

 

Vote for Your Favorite Greeks!: GABBY Voting

20 Mar

gab

You, yes YOU, have the power to select the winners of the 2013 GABBY Awards. What’s that? You’ve never heard of the GABBYs? Where have you been, my friend? The GABBY Awards celebrates Greek America’s best and brightest:

The Gabby Awards were created to celebrate those Greek North Americans who strive to be the very best at what they do. Whether in business, philanthropy, the arts, education or other areas of interest that our awards cover, we celebrate the pursuit excellence as a core Greek ideal and are inspired by people who pursue excellence.

The name “Gabby” comes from the acronym “Greek America’s Best and Brightest Stars” and the Gabby has quickly become the top achievement awards for Greek North Americans. The awards are based on a purely meritocratic system that involves a 100-member Academy that determines the nominees, followed by a popular vote via the internet.

I attended the 2011 GABBY Awards on Ellis Island, which were AMAZING. Here are my recaps.

This year, the star-studded festivities will take place in Hollywood.

And the nominees are….

…Drum roll, please!

Business & Entrepreneurism

  • Sophia Amoruso, Founder and Owner, Nasty Gal (fashion)
  • George Kalogridis, President, Walt Disney Resort
  • Arianna Huffington, Journalist and Founder of the Huffington Post

Politics & Public Service

  • Andromache Karakastanis, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Reince R. Priebus, Attorney, Chairman of the Republican National Committee
  • John Sarbanes, Maryland Congressman

Philanthropy

  • John Paul DeJoria, Co-founder of Paul Mitchell Systems, Patron Spirits, and JP Selects
  • Michael Lazaridis, Founder of Blackberry, Philanthropist
  • John Pappajohn, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Athletics

  • George Kontos, Professional Baseball Player
  • Christina Loukas, Olympian, Diver
  • Nick Markakis, Professional Baseball Player

Education

  • Nicholas Economides, Professor of Economics
  • C. L. Max Nikias, President, University of Southern California
  • Nicholas Zeppos, Chancellor, Vanderbilt University

Arts & Culture

  • Alexander Payne, Screenwriter and Director
  • George Pelecanos, Novelist, Writer and Producer
  • Greg Yaitanes, Director and Innovator

Performing Arts

  • Chris Diamantopoulos, Actor
  • Tina Fey, Actress
  • Zachary Galifianakis, Actor and Comedian

Science & Medicine

  • Paul Alivisatos, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science
  • Dr. Peter Diamandis, Founder, Chairman & CEO of the X Prize Foundation
  • Constantine Stratakis, M.D. D.Sc., Medical Investigator

You can officially vote here. Let me know in the comments section, though, who you’re voting for. Also, is there anyone that didn’t make the cut that you think should have been nominated?

Beat Poetry Competition at the Nuyorican

17 Dec

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Checked out the Beat poetry slam at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe over on the Lower East Side during Beat Week. “We’re excited to be here in a proper poet’s cafe, celebrating a proper poet,” said host Mahogany Browne. The Nuyorican was cofounded by Miguel Algarin, who knew Jack Kerouac back in the day. Browne encouraged the audience to snap as she read a quote from On the Road “like the Beat poets” did “because they were too high to clap.” Of Kerouac’s famous novel, she said, “It’s a dude book. [The characters] get to travel all over the world and fall in love. I’d be too scared [to go on the road].” Hm… sounds familiar.

Browne, a poet in her own right, said the contestants would be “burning some poems on this motherf*cking mic.” She explained that slam is “the Olympics of poetry.” The poets were competing for a chance to win $50 and the soundtrack to the film adaptation of On the Road. The judges were told to rank each poet from 1 to 10, with decimals and exclamation points encouraged. The poets each had a unique style. Some poets appeared to be seasoned professionals, who had memorized their words, and others seemed like brave young artists. Even the quieter, dreamier poems were powerful. I love the way the photographs I took show the energy of the poetry.

There was also a Jack Kerouac trivia contest. I abstained from reading at the event and wasn’t planning on competing in the trivia contest, but when everyone was stumped, I couldn’t help but blurt out the answer. A teenaged girl in the audience wanted to win so desperately that she practically fell out of her chair trying to ask me for trivia answers. Instead of helping her cheat, I just gave her the winning copy of the On the Road novel. I’ve never seen anyone want to read a book that badly, and it was my little way of encouraging people to read Kerouac.

Afterwards I talked to one of the poets, a guy who’d been on the road himself. He was a truck driver and had also spent time studying painting in Syria. I liked how each poet had their own story to tell.

 

Photographs from the Olympics in Greece

9 Aug

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t pass up going to the Olympics when they were held in Athens in 2004.  At last, the Olympic Games were back where they began!  The men’s and women’s shot put tournament were even held in Olympia, the original site of the Olympics.  The rest of the games were in Athens, which had been completely revamped and upgraded with insanely gorgeous stadiums.  Unfortunately, because of the slow rate of construction there was a lot of fuss in the media about whether the Greeks could get it done in time.  The condescending attitude seemed kind of ironic, considering the Greeks invented the tradition of the Olympics and preserved the ancient site.  Between that and it being the first Olympics since 9/11, there weren’t as many people there as expected.  It was too bad because the Olympic Village that they created especially for the 2004 Athens Olympics was one of the most gorgeous modern venues I’ve ever had the experience of being in.  My friend and I got great seats to our chosen event — men’s swimming 😉

 

Have you ever been to the Olympics?  Which sports would you most want to watch in person?

 

Photographs from My Trip to the Ancient Olympics

6 Aug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you watching the Olympics right now?

My family lives close to where the very first Olympics were held — the Olympic games began in 776 BC in Olympia, which is in the Peleponnesus in Greece — so over the years, I’ve visited Olympia more times than I could possibly count.  Even though I’m probably one of the least athletic people on the entire planet and couldn’t care less about watching any of the Olympic games, I still love going to site of where the Olympics all began.

What’s so fun about Olympia, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is that you can actually walk right up to the incredible stone columns.  You’re essentially treading the same path as the ancient Olympians.  My father always insists that we run the stadium, and since I love to ham it up for the camera, we end up with lots of silly pictures like the above.  Through this tradition, he’s been able to capture me growing up through the lens of the Ancient Olympics.

If you’re planning a trip to Olympia, Greece, you may find this site helpful.

 

Does your family have a tradition of taking annual photos anywhere unique?